Hun Sen Accuses Thailand of Reneging on Prisoner Exchange

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wed­nesday lashed out at Thai leaders for their alleged dishonesty in re­neging on a prisoner exchange deal that saw the transfer of two Thai prisoners to Thailand, but was not followed by the return of two Cam­bodian women from Thai jails.

“During his visit [to Cambodia], [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit had asked for the transferring of prisoners, and I wanted to exchange two Khmer women who have been sentenced with the death penalty,” Mr Hun Sen said in speech.

“These two [Thai] prisoners were already sent to Thailand in early July, but the two Khmer prisoners were not sent back yet,” the prime minister said at the graduation ceremony of a private university in Phnom Penh.

“They [Thailand] said it violated their legal procedure. If it violates their legal procedures, then why did you ask about transferring [prisoners] with me?” the prime minister asked.

According to officials, the two prisoners sent back to Thailand were Thai Muslims Muhammad Yalal­udin Mading and Abdul Azi Haji Chi­ming, who were given life sentences by Cambodia’s Supreme Court in 2004 for their roles in an alleged conspiracy by the Jeemah Islamiyah militant group to attack Western targets in Phnom Penh.

Koy Kuong, undersecretary of state and spokesman for the Cambo­dian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, identified the two Cambodian female prisoners as siblings Khuon Srey, 41, and Khuon Montha, 31, who had been arrested and jailed in Thailand’s Trat province since 1997 awaiting death.

The Thai government had pro­mised to transfer the two death-row prisoners to complete their im­pri­sonment term in Cambodia in ex­change for transferring the two convicted Thai terrorists back home, said Mr Kuong, adding that the ­agreement was reached between Mr Hun Sen and Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva during his visit to Cambodia in June. But the Thai government has never enforced its pledge, Mr Kuong said.

“The prisoners who were raised up by Samdech Prime Minister are under the jurisdiction of this treaty,” Mr Kuong said. “Their transferring was made in special agreement of the two premiers,” he said, adding that the transfer deal was officially signed by the two governments on Aug 5 in Bangkok.

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